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BOUCHETTE BANGS ON NFL TEAMS FOR LAYOFFS

We’ve mentioned a time or two our discomfort with the notion of otherwise profitable businesses using the cover of an economic downturn to cut costs by cutting off workers.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes the bull by the bear market and articulates the situation better than we ever could.
“[B]y using the economy as an excuse, the most successful pro league in sports has set a poor example for others,” Bouchette writes.  “They’re throwing people out of work, not because they’re losing money but because, at best, they fear the future — although it won’t stop the owners from staying in $500-a-night rooms at their meetings on the California coast later this month.”
Boom.  Roasted.
“That is precisely the kind of thinking the country does not need now, and if we’re getting it from one of the nation’s thriving businesses, what can anyone else expect?” Bouchette adds.  “Instead of leading in tough times, the NFL has cowered.”
We made a similar point in the wake of the acquisition of Albert Haynesworth by the Redskins (it was the first story posted after the Black Friday server explosion).  How can a team justify laying off good, hard-working men and women while guaranteeing $41 million to a person who, in any other line of work, would have been fired and ostracized for doing what he did to Andre Gurode?
It can’t, and actions like this could jeopardize the NFL’s standing as the preeminent sports league in America.

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45 Responses to “BOUCHETTE BANGS ON NFL TEAMS FOR LAYOFFS”
  1. kevinS says: Mar 8, 2009 12:10 PM

    Players contracts are covered by the salary cap, and CBA. The other team employees are not. People can say that spending a night in a $500 hotel room might seem wrong, when they are laying off, but the teams have to spend that money on players, as it was collectively bargained. How they spend it is up to the teams

  2. titans_fan says: Mar 8, 2009 12:13 PM

    “They’re throwing people out of work, not because they’re losing money but because, at best, they fear the future…”
    Exactly! They’re taking that money out of the economy because they’re afraid of the economy tanking… guess what? When you start pre-emptively laying folks off the economy will tank. And not to mention what this does to confidence, what really drives the economy.
    Now that we’ve said that cue the “the government will give them lots in unemployment” liberals…

  3. Shaun Lowrie says: Mar 8, 2009 12:19 PM

    100% correct. A drum that needs to be banged more than any other.

  4. WorldChampionBears2008 says: Mar 8, 2009 12:20 PM

    First thought when I read the title: The Waterboy strikes back?
    “My momma Says… My momma Says… Fooseball is da devil!”

  5. MarkB says: Mar 8, 2009 12:23 PM

    Regarding Haynesworth: would paying customers rather have Albert Haynesworth or ten clerical workers? The Redskins didn’t give The Headstomper big money because they hate the little guy – they did it because it’s what their customers and advertisers want. What are you, Florio, some kind of communist? You sound like the public radio commies demanding “social justice.” Life isn’t fair – if you want to keep your job, be irreplacable.

  6. Slow Joe says: Mar 8, 2009 12:35 PM

    Excellent post.

  7. CD_Ridge says: Mar 8, 2009 12:39 PM

    As a Steeler fan, I have read Bouchette’s articles for years. He is one of the better journalists in sports without the national exposure of other blowhards (cough, cough… Mariotti).

  8. debo says: Mar 8, 2009 12:43 PM

    No one is worth 41 million bucks! That deal blows up in Synder’s face! Karma is a mofo…

  9. GregorioRossini says: Mar 8, 2009 12:44 PM

    get owned League. – get owned

  10. Eaglescout says: Mar 8, 2009 12:57 PM

    Many other successful companies are doing the very same thing. Walmart had record profits last year but saw fit to lay off 60 executives from its corporate headquaters. The reasoning is as simple as it it is greedy. People are fearful of losing their jobs so the remaining workers have no choice but to work harder when successful companies cut staff. Companies also know that if they need to rehire the working force is plentiful and at a lower salary.

  11. truwarier says: Mar 8, 2009 1:00 PM

    Florio , this is America, a capitalist nation, this is
    what America is about:
    1. Make as much money as you can in life.
    2.Money is everything, and its hard to survive without money.
    3.Life isn’t fair.
    4.Take care of yourself first and worry about your own problems.
    5.If you dont make a living for yourself, nobody will help.

  12. ncsteeler86 says: Mar 8, 2009 1:01 PM

    Bouchette is an ass at times but he is right in this case. NFL teams main revenue flow (TV money, tickets to sold out stadiums) hasn’t changed in the last year – maybe jersey sales are down a little. So, there’s no justification for a support person to lose their job. If they needed these people they need them now. If not, they were poor businessmen for hiring them in the first place.

  13. LenSp1 says: Mar 8, 2009 1:02 PM

    Walmart, like most companies, can have conditions turn sour fast since it’s revenue stream and biggest expense isn’t locked in for several years. The NFL, however, has those two areas locked down for years at a time. If any NFL team believes that their costs with support staff have gotten too big, then the smart thing would be to use attrition and and some early retirement buyouts to reduce that staff. That would avoid the bad publicity.

  14. Nineteen says: Mar 8, 2009 1:04 PM

    [i]although it won’t stop the owners from staying in $500-a-night rooms at their meetings on the California coast later this month.”[/i]
    And why should it? They’re the owners. They’ve taken the risks to make the money they have, and it’s their job to make those decisions and to enjoy the spoils. Good for them. And good for the people who work in those $500-a-night hotels who will benefit as well.
    Maybe instead of settling for collecting a weekly paycheck Mr. Bouchette should start a successful business that creates jobs and he could enjoy the same $500-a-night perks.
    In the America that I grew up in, success is lauded and striven for. When did class envy become a virtue?

  15. svnrdr says: Mar 8, 2009 1:12 PM

    @ kevinS,
    I think you have missed the point. No one is stating that teams cannot spend their money the way they want.
    There is a HUGE difference between legality and ethics…ethics trumps legality all day long.
    Even before it was posted here @ PFT, as soon as I heard Haynsworth’s deal and the layoffs of non-football related personnel, it made me sick as it should any rational person.

  16. Zaggs says: Mar 8, 2009 1:42 PM

    And if free agents knew an owner was staying at a holiday inn, how many would sign with that team as the impression would be that they’re cheap?

  17. stillworker says: Mar 8, 2009 1:48 PM

    CD_Ridge says:
    March 8th, 2009 at 12:39 pm
    “As a Steeler fan, I have read Bouchette’s articles for years. He is one of the better journalists in sports…………………………”
    CD – I don’t know what drug you’re on, but I want some. Based on talent – Douchette couldn’t write for a high school paper…..he is ass-terrible. The only way he keeps his job at that home-town rag is that he does a better job under Rooney’s desk than the next guy. Do you ever watch Tomlin’s news conferences? Have you EVER heard Douchette ask a question? ………criticize a call?…….do anything? If he’s being interviewed, and is asked a question off the cuff…..he’s stupified…can’t answer the most sophomoric question unless someone’s holding a cue card for him. He ain’t kool.

  18. wtfChiefs says: Mar 8, 2009 1:49 PM

    In no way can you justify the salaries of players and owners, it absolutely rediculous. Football is a business?? BS!! It is, and was, a game before its a business. There are millions of people that contribute more to society than these greedy overpaid clowns.

  19. carpkillah says: Mar 8, 2009 1:50 PM

    Football is a business, as is pointed out on a daily basis by every free agent, holdout, and owner in the league.
    The point of a business is to make money. There are probably a few owners in the league who bought their teams out of love for the game, etc., but I guarantee that if they weren’t making money, they’d have gotten out by now.
    Again, the point of a business is to make money, not to provide employment for people. I feel bad about people losing their jobs, I live in the midwest and am seeing it all around me, but if Dan Snyder were to stay at a Holiday Inn instead of a “$500-a-night” hotel, things wouldn’t be any different.
    As much as I don’t like Haynesworth, and think he was overpaid, Snyder didn’t sit there and look at the payroll and figure out which office staff he was going to have to cut to make up that $100 million or whatever it was. Any assertion that signing Haynesworth cost office employees their jobs is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
    Besides that, Haynesworth will bring in alot of money into the organization than some secretary, or at least that’s what Snyder is betting, taking ALL the risk, while journalists from their ivory towers criticize out of jealousy.
    God forbid that a few men who built successful businesses that pour millions in tax dollars into the government and millions in revenues into their communities spend “$500-a-night” on hotel rooms.
    Hey Florio, what did your trip to the Super Bowl cost?

  20. malpine says: Mar 8, 2009 1:51 PM

    The success and future success of a society is not measured by it’s wealthiest, but by it’s members most lacking. That doesn’t mean socialism is necessarily the way to go, but capitalism hasn’t necessarily shown to be so great either.
    This society, like all others, would cease to exist if everyone refused to do the weekly paycheck jobs and started a successful business that creates jobs. Exactly who would work those jobs if everyone had that attitude? We rightfully applaud the successful business person who does this, but somehow denigrate the individual who makes that successful person possible.
    The world needs ditch diggers…they may be paid less, but they are no less valuable.
    Snyder and the Steeler’s have every right to do what they want with their money. Bouchette has the right to call them out on being irresponsible with it.
    And there is NO such thing as being irreplaceable…

  21. svnrdr says: Mar 8, 2009 1:54 PM

    I am a Capitalist, entrepreneur, and a huge believer in the free market and am sickened by this Capitalist on the way up and Socialist on the way down mentality that we are currently witnessing.
    …HOWEVER one can maintain these beliefs and can conduct them with a sense of social responsibility.

  22. reddog says: Mar 8, 2009 2:09 PM

    It’s called capitalism! Too bad clueless B. Hussain O. and his liberal cronnies and union buddies just don’t seem to understand that. America, the great country that it was and hopefully will be again once Hussain is done screwing it up, was built on capitalism!! Companies/teams who nothing to their employees as it is employment at will….These teams do not owe it to their employees to keep them on the payroll just because times are bad. Look at it the other way, as an employee when times are good and you have other offers for more cash or responsibility do you say no because you owe something to your current employer?? If you do, you are a fool!

  23. Bertil says: Mar 8, 2009 2:15 PM

    So a lawyer agrees with a member of the media that other people spend their own money wrongly. Now THERE’S a story worth covering! Quick, Florio, STOP THE PRESSES!
    Florio? Oh I just heard a siren… Quick, RUN! You might still be able to catch up.

  24. southie905 says: Mar 8, 2009 2:16 PM

    carpkillah, “Hey Florio, what did your trip to the Super Bowl cost?”
    …something tells me that Florio’s hands weren’t soiled with the blood of hardworking americans jobs when he left for the Super Bowl

  25. Shaun Lowrie says: Mar 8, 2009 2:23 PM

    reddog proving exactly how much he knows about the ‘Capitalism’ that made America great.
    Put this way: Remember which administration was responsible for plunging your country and others into financial meltdown. Yeah… I think you could do with a dose of Barack Obama actually.

  26. ACDC84 says: Mar 8, 2009 2:30 PM

    I agree with everything Florio said, except: “…actions like this could jeopardize the NFL’s standing as the preeminent sports league in America.” Most NFL fans are too passionate to be overly affected by this. we can all say that the organizations are too greedy and unfair and all that, but when September rolls around that will all be forgotten.

  27. screaming sheep says: Mar 8, 2009 2:38 PM

    Mike, you have written before that this is not a political forum, or something to that point during the election. But you sure let your views be known in this post. I believe everyone that reads that will know which side of the fence your on.
    And while we are on the subject, just remember when the economy started its slide on Wall Street, when the Democrats took control of the house 2 years ago. Those loans weren’t bad then, people were working and making payments. And now a real social minded president who is printing money as fast as he can to sponsor “programs”, if I was China I would call in my notes.
    Think I will buy gold bricks and bury them in my backyard, seems thats the safest bet now.

  28. ScootyPuffJunior says: Mar 8, 2009 2:47 PM

    Douchette.

  29. TheDPR says: Mar 8, 2009 2:51 PM

    The role of business is to make a profit. The role of business is not to create jobs or maintain jobs, or to set an example. If a business can function as well with fewer employees and maximize it’s profit, then more power to it.
    No one has a right to be given a job. Everyone has the right to become self-employed. If you have a skill, market it and make money. If you don’t, then by all means become yet another dependent of the welfare state.
    Class envy is the disease that is on its way to destroying our way of life. Way to feed the fire, Mike. This may be the worst article you’ve ever written in support of an even worse concept.

  30. tj.52 says: Mar 8, 2009 2:56 PM

    The fact is that the 32 teams of the NFL are privately owned businesses that owe absolutely nothing to society.
    If you do not like what these teams are doing with their money, you have every right to stop supporting them.
    You also have every right to tell all your friends to stop supporting them.
    This situation is really not comparable to the banking and insurance situations that we are dealing with right now.
    You cannot REFUSE to get a mortgage if you want to buy a home.
    You cannot, in most if not all states, REFUSE to get insurance for your vehicle, home and business.
    The banking and insurance situations are legalized extortion, not capitalism at its worst.
    You don’t like what the teams are doing, stop watching the games and buying the hats and t-shirts. Plain and simple.

  31. reddog says: Mar 8, 2009 3:06 PM

    Shaun Lowrie – What can I do with a dose of B. Hussain O. except pay more taxes and subject my kids to paying for all his BS! I didn’t agree with Bush economics as the gov’t spent too much (excluding the war which was necessary), but he never should have bailed out those lazy GM union workers or the banks. A capitalist would have let the markets work. Hussain has tanked the stock market almost 25% in 6 weeks, but then again you probably are not in the market and are waiting for another handout from Hussain!

  32. Mr. Phantom says: Mar 8, 2009 3:11 PM

    Bouchette is absolutely correct with this story. What he also wrote is the NFL teams are doing this so as to cry poor during the next labor talks. Typical big business move. Keep all of the profits, pay no taxes, have the rest of the tax payers pay for their stadiums, and have no morality or public consciousness. At least the old “robber barrons” of the past did do some good things for society unlike the ones of this new era. I laugh at some of these posts critical of the new administration. Look at the last eight years. How can anyone not think a change in direction is needed? Oh, I guess only the ones who don’t pay a dime in taxes and yet get all of the benefits by living in America. As Lincoln said, this is a country of the people, by the people and for the people. The people have spoken. By the way, there is nothing in the Constitution of what type of economy the United States should have.

  33. SpartaChris says: Mar 8, 2009 3:17 PM

    >>Nineteen says:
    In the America that I grew up in, success is lauded and striven for. When did class envy become a virtue?<<
    It became a virtue when America decided it was more important that a child feel good about themselves than it was to allow them to experience the harshness of the real world. When self entitlement and self worth and finger pointing took precedence over hard work, determination and persistence.
    I’m surprised that people are surprised by the outrage. We now live in a country where your problems are the direct result of someone else’s failure. It’s not your fault that you have problems with money. It’s not your fault that you’re fat and disgusting and unhealthy. It’s not your fault that you make poor decisions in life. It’s the fault of rich people. Not to fear though. The Government will fix it!
    As far as the topic is concerned, it sounds like this guy is writing an article with the sole purpose of getting people riled up. Let’s be real here- Is a team supposed to do nothing in the off season to improve? Of course not, and any action in the off season is going to cost money.
    It sucks that folks lost their jobs, but none of us are privvy as to why. All we can do is merely speculate and point fingers.

  34. SpartaChris says: Mar 8, 2009 3:20 PM

    >>Shaun Lowrie says:
    March 8th, 2009 at 2:23 pm
    reddog proving exactly how much he knows about the ‘Capitalism’ that made America great.
    Put this way: Remember which administration was responsible for plunging your country and others into financial meltdown. Yeah… I think you could do with a dose of Barack Obama actually.<<
    Yup- The Clinton Administration. He was the catalyst that got this big ball moving. In fact, in 2003, Bush foresaw the potential meltdown, and it was Barney Frank who said “Nope, everything’s fine!” Funny how they now point fingers at Bush when in reality he wasn’t the one who started this mess.

  35. WorldChampionBears2008 says: Mar 8, 2009 3:22 PM

    Gaaaaatorade
    H20!!
    Gaaaatorade
    H20!!
    Water Sucks It Really Really Sucks!!

  36. desertfootballfan says: Mar 8, 2009 3:25 PM

    While the concept of capitalism is alive and well in the NFL, the facts are that television basically provides NFL teams a break even proposition. Local broadcasting, sponsorships and ticket sales represents the profit margin.
    Many teams may be using the economy as a way to jettison less or non-productive front office personnel, the fact remains they are over compensating for “economic” layoffs by ridding themselves of revenue producing personnel, which in turn will create less revenue. (This is called a self fulfilling prophecy.)
    While the team revenue producers who were laid off, as one other comment read, can be replaced at a lower wage, the real questions is why are the teams laying personnel off. These teams ALL make millions of dollars even as owners pay themselves top salaries and great benefits.
    The real expense items teams need to watch are the biggest expense categories, player salaries, (within the limits of the CBA minimum) and coaching salaries and staff size. Teams can police themselves on the salary cap as long as they meet the cap minimums. Relative to coaches salaries, teams have seemingly gotten away from high priced veteran coaches, (Gruden, Shanahan, The Big Show, etc) hiring lower profile assistant coaches (The Tomlin Effect) as replacements. That is just one of the coaches salary issues, the other is size of staffs and the salary levels for coordinators. This requires self restraint and controlling the big dollars by the teams. If will be interesting to see if the those teams following the Tomlin Effect, (Chiefs, Rams, Broncos, et all) will be successful. I think they will be on a short leash and the Gruden’s, Shanahan’s and the like will be back at the helms of teams that want to win, maybe will less control and tighter budgets, but back in the saddle nonetheless.
    If Teams use self restraint, and change non productive front office staff for new staff, or consolidate some positions, then all these layoffs are not necessary.
    Maybe the question is: Is there collusion among the owners to use the layoffs as a media relations ploy for union bargaining, while many clubs concurrently address the expense of the player salary categories and coaching related salary issues, (size of staff and salaries)?

  37. Mike D says: Mar 8, 2009 3:26 PM

    “It can’t, and actions like this could jeopardize the NFL’s standing as the preeminent sports league in America.”
    Good article until you blew it with this line. Thats just not realistic.

  38. mistrhanky says: Mar 8, 2009 3:40 PM

    This is simple. He stomped on a Cowboy’s face. In Washington, that makes all forgiven.

  39. kongzilla says: Mar 8, 2009 3:43 PM

    Mr. Phantom says” Oh, I guess only the ones who don’t pay a dime in taxes and yet get all of the benefits by living in America.”
    Are you kidding me with this post? You think NFL owners don’t pay taxes? Do you realize that a huge percentage of Americans do not pay federal taxes? Maybe as a veteran I don’t think you deserve any benefits from living in America, doesn’t work that way buddy. While I agree that some personnel decisions may seem immoral, who are we to decide that? You are opening up a can of worms if you are going to blame private business for the economy’s problems. The government can’t employ everybody.

  40. Favre2012 says: Mar 8, 2009 3:46 PM

    Unless football ceases to exist, nothing will ever “jeopardize the NFL’s standing as the preeminent sports league in America.”

  41. RonO says: Mar 8, 2009 3:47 PM

    St Florio has judged and has decreed owners may not exercise ownership.
    In other news, St Florio has agreed to allow his readership to decide PFT hirings and firings.
    By poll.
    On the Eagles website.

  42. mskrs says: Mar 8, 2009 10:00 PM

    Loved both this item and the 2/27 Haynesworth item, Florio. I was sort-of looking for such a piece on the day the signing happened – but the hamsters went on strike – and in the chaos that ensued, I missed a lot. In fact, I was harboring a conspiracy-theory that you deliberately tanked your site that day, in part to protect NFL teams like the Redskins from this type of backlash. (Notice how Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato protected *themselves* from media backlash/scrutiny by not availing themselves on the podium alongside Haynesworth during Haynesworth’s introductory press conference.)
    And not only did the Redskins award an insane contract to a person who did what he did to Andre Gurode – they just *happened* to lucratively employ a guy who – based on the item you posted yesterday – is a danger to the community at-large. What he did to a fellow player in the troughs of a sport in which testosterone-fueled aggression is the order of the day is not kosher – but what Haynesworth did to an innocent “working stiff” when he (Haynesworth) was supposed to be operating a vehicle like a responsible adult is much worse.
    (And Haynesworth wasn’t even intoxicated at the time, was he?)
    Maybe Snyder felt a certain “connection” with Haynesworth: while Snyder puts people out of work through mass layoffs, Haynesworth puts people out of work through serious bodily injury.

  43. jblovein says: Mar 9, 2009 12:52 PM

    Rich people don’t EVER take less money. If you want to raise their taxes or make them give up more of the money they made, they will just squeeze everyone else to make sure they get paid the same amount. They are rich for a reason…and it usually ain’t because they are dumb.
    (and no, i’m not rich, not even close)

  44. SpartaChris says: Mar 9, 2009 1:34 PM

    It strikes me as humorous just how many people think rich, successful people do nothing more than sit back and collect tax breaks. How they fail to recognize that success isn’t given- it’s earned. How they blame rich people for their problems while failing to acknowledge that it takes a LOT of hard work, determination, persistence and sacrifice to earn that success, the kind most of us aren’t willing to put the time or effort into.
    The easy thing to do is to make excuses and blame other people for your life’s mistakes and problems. The simple fact is it’s a lot of hard work to become successful. In fact, CNN published a study sometime back stating that the average success story took 10 years to develop. 10 years!
    But instead of acknowledging the effort required, we choose to throw around words like “greedy” and “unfair.” Phrases like, “They should pay their fair share” or “No one needs to have that kind of money.” Instead of teaching our children that hard work and determination are what will eventually pay off in life, and that it’s ok to fail from time to time, we teach our children that they are entitled to the good life right out of high school, and that they won’t have to earn anything for themselves since all of life’s problems will be taken care of for them.
    And we really wonder why we’re in the economic mess we’re in.

  45. SpartaChris says: Mar 9, 2009 1:45 PM

    >>kongzilla says:
    March 8th, 2009 at 3:43 pm
    Mr. Phantom says” Oh, I guess only the ones who don’t pay a dime in taxes and yet get all of the benefits by living in America.”
    Are you kidding me with this post? You think NFL owners don’t pay taxes? Do you realize that a huge percentage of Americans do not pay federal taxes? Maybe as a veteran I don’t think you deserve any benefits from living in America, doesn’t work that way buddy. While I agree that some personnel decisions may seem immoral, who are we to decide that? You are opening up a can of worms if you are going to blame private business for the economy’s problems. The government can’t employ everybody.<<
    It’s a typical finger pointing response by someone who wants to blame other people for their problems while completely ignoring the facts.
    According to a study done by taxfoundation.org in 2007, the top 20% of income earners pay more in taxes than the remaining 80% of income earners combined and received less in government spending.
    In fact, it’s those who pay the least in taxes that receive the most in government spending. So those who pay the most get the least and vice versa.. Yet people bitch about tax breaks for corporations.
    People also fail to acknowledge that it’s the wealthy who provide the jobs. The wealthy who start the companies that employ millions of Americans. But no, they’re not paying their fair share to society, even though they provide me with a paycheck and a chance to earn a living. How dare they!
    Disclaimer- I’m not rich. Far from it in fact. I just despise the “Woe is me attitude” we American’s have put on display lately. The American dream can be had by those who work for it.

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